The Slum Chronotope and Imaginaries of Spatial Justice in Philippine Urban Cinema
This dissertation proposes that Philippine independent urban cinema reveals imaginaries of spatial justice. The works approached as Philippine urban cinema are independently produced and internationally circulated films that heavily feature or reference Philippine slums as setting, with narratives that centre on the lives of the urban poor. The theory of spatial justice as defined by leading urban theorists argues that social justice has spatio-temporal dimensions. Grounded on this foundational premise, this study approaches Philippine urban cinema in its capacity to foreground and represent the complexities of social justice as contextualised in Philippine urban conditions, with local and global trajectories. Alongside the theory of spatial justice, the dissertation draws from Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory of the “chronotope” (literally meaning time-space) to formulate a theory of the “slum chronotope” as a foundational concept for analysing the ways by which films are able to imagine issues of spatial justice, with emphasis on character configuration and narrative formation. The chapters are structured according to genres and modalities, where other chronotopes that dialogue with the slum chronotope are identified and examined. In the comingof- age chapter, the study locates “chronotopes of passage”; in the melodrama chapter, the study locates “affective chronotopes” configured by the spatial practice of walking; in the Manila noir chapter, the study locates “chronotopes of mobility”; and in the final chapter, the study locates “chronotopes of in/visibility” in the Overseas Filipino Worker genre. This study offers a novel interdisciplinary framework for analysing Philippine urban cinema, and in the process, makes a case for Philippine urban history as crucial grounds for understanding the global urbanisation of poverty.